The Mudgee Dragons caused the biggest upset to date in the 2023 Western Women's Rugby League (WWRL) competition to keep their finals hopes alive by defeating the highly-fancied Wiradjuri Goannas 24-22 in their Round Six fixture in Wellington on Saturday.
A Caitlin Devenish double led the Dragons to the all-important two-point win with Mudgee, which puts them equal on six competition points with Woodbridge but trailing them in fifth spot on the ladder on for-and-against.
With the top four playing finals, coach Corey Stockton said his side needs to repeat Saturday's effort to beat the second-placed Orange Vipers in Mudgee on Saturday.
"Our season-to-date has been a bit below par, to be honest," Stockton said.
"What has let us down in our losses has been our completion rate, which was below 30 per cent, and in those games, it was hot, and we defended all day.
"If we can complete at around 60 per cent … we'll have a big chance of beating the Vipers. We just need to hold the ball."
The Vipers are in red-hot form, defeating Woodbridge 30-4 in Orange on Saturday. With a top-two finish and a home semi-final on the line, Stockton believes they will take some beating.
"Looking at their results, they are going good," Stockton said.
"They knocked off the Platypi, and that result speaks for itself, so we know we will be playing a really good side.
"It's going to be a hard game for us, but as we always do, we just need to go out there and give it our best."
Despite an up-and-down campaign, the Dragons are improving, evident by their thrilling win over the Goannas. Their coach is confident they can make a finals run if they finish in the top four.
"We have been getting better and better, and the girls working so hard at training," Stockton said.
"They are good listeners, passionate, and love the game of footy; they keep improving, and that's all I can ask of them."
The Dragons, formerly known as the Mid-West Brumbies, are the only WWRL team linked directly to a current NSWRL club. Stockton said the Dragons men and committee were right behind their women, suggesting it was a recipe for future success.
"It's great to be fielding a team in each age group, and there is so much passion from the girls, the committee and everyone involved with the club," Stockton said.
"The whole system out there is excellent. I'm also involved with the men, but we are one big club, and a lot of the boys come down and help, and I've had fellas from the Under 18s and Reserve grade help … the Reserve grade coach is my assistant coach.
"We're developing a good culture, and this is the first year we have gone under the Mudgee Dragons name, and with the base we are building, it will be good in the years to come.
"Local girls who have moved away are even coming back for a game, and we've got girls from Lithgow, Newcastle, Cronulla, and a couple of Dubbo rugby girls involved, which really helps us."
In other Round Seven WWRL action, the fourth-placed Woodbridge outfit is in the box seat to qualify for finals, but they host the third-placed Wiradjuri Goannas at Grenfell's Lawson Oval on Saturday desperate to end a two-game losing streak.
Also, on Saturday, Lachlan District and Castlereagh will play for pride and to avoid the WWRL wooden spoon when playing at Red Bend College.
Click here for WWRL draws and results.